About two dozen members of local resistance forces in central Burma were killed in an army ambush as they tried to evacuate villagers ahead of a fierce army offensive, according to resistance members and media reports.
The total number of insurgents killed last Friday near Chay Yar Taw village in Sagaing District’s Myinmu town, if confirmed, would be one of the highest totals in a single armed confrontation in Burma’s ongoing conflict since the army seized the power in February 2021. overthrowing the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The military takeover sparked massive nonviolent protests across the country, and the military and police responded with lethal force. Armed resistance ensued, which has since turned into what UN experts have described as a civil war.
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The army has been waging major offensives in the countryside for the past two years, including burning villages and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. She faced some of her toughest resistance in Sagaing, Burma’s historic heartland.
Loosely organized resistance groups opposed to military rule, known as the People’s Defense Force, or PDF, have sprung up across the country and formed alliances with well-entrenched ethnic minority armed groups that have been fighting the central government for more than half a century, seeking greater autonomy. in the border areas.
San Shar, a spokesman for the Black Eagle Defense Force resistance group from Myinmu town, told The Associated Press that the ambush occurred Friday night around 8 p.m., while it and other local resistance groups were evacuating hundreds of civilians south of the village Kyawt Min. They were bringing residents to nearby villages, including Chay Yar Taw, because they expected soldiers to raid Kyawt Min from the north that night.
The area is about 40 miles west of Mandalay, the country’s second largest city.
Another member of the Black Eagle Defense Force, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from the military, said on Monday that a truck carrying villagers proceeded but stopped en route, and resistance fighters following behind in a minivans and on motorcycles sped ahead to catch up. He said they failed to realize that about 30 plainclothes soldiers had captured the site and the soldiers easily captured and then killed the resistance fighters, including five members of his group.
He said the resistance fighters had only improvised weapons and could not stand up to the much better armed soldiers.
He acknowledged that he had not seen the murders, but said he believed they were shot at the scene Friday night and early Saturday morning. Two PDF members managed to escape arrest, he said. He said the evacuated villagers who moved on were apparently unharmed, although one Kyaut Min villager was killed in unclear circumstances.
When PDF members went to the scene on Saturday morning, they saw the bodies of their comrades with gunshot wounds to the head piled up on the street where they had been arrested, he said, adding that all were men and appeared to have signs of torture.
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It was impossible to independently confirm the details of the attack because reporting is restricted by the military government.
Independent online news website Myanmar Now quoted a spokesman for the Sagaing District PDF battalion as saying that a vehicle carrying 18 insurgents trying to evacuate villagers was attacked by security forces and all on board were killed on Friday night. A motorcycle convoy of seven members of the resistance force was later shot by the same military unit and there were no survivors, it said.
Reports of the killings, along with so-called photographs of the remains of the dead, also appeared in other independent Burmese media and on social media on Saturday.
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The military government has not made any official statement about the incident. However, reports by military supporters on social media platform Telegram also said that 25 members of local PDF groups were killed by security forces in the ambush near Chay Yar Taw and that motorcycles, two cars and weapons were seized.